Sunday, October 26, 2008

Vote NO on Proposal 2

Proposal 2 on the ballot in Michigan in November concerns embryonic stem cell research. A stem cell is a human cell that can become many different types of cells. Some people believe that stem cell research has potential to cure some diseases.

There are several different types of stem cells. There are embryonic stem cells, which are the components of embryos that help them grow in babies. There are also adult stem cells that are in everyone's bodies, and there are umbilical cord stem cells, and induced stem cells, which are other cells conditioned to act like embryonic stem cells.

Research using all forms of stem cells is legal in America and in Michigan. The only thing that is illegal in Michigan is the destruction of human embryos for research. This is legal nationally, and embryonic stem cells can be imported into Michigan. There is no "ban" on embryonic stem cell research, much less all stem cell research. The only "restriction" on this research is that it currently cannot receive federal or state funding. In the same sense, government could be said to "ban" stamp-collecting because it does not subsidize it.

Proposal 2 would overturn Michigan's ban on the destruction of human embryos for research. Make no mistake. Embryos are human beings. Destroying an embryo is killing a human life. They are at the earliest stages of human development, and they are younger and smaller than us, but stage of development, age, and size do not affect whether someone is human or deserving of protection.

Don't be distracted by the argument that embryos "would be destroyed anyways". This is not some cosmic law of nature. It is a choice made by human beings. It could be otherwise. It is shameful that human embryos are treated this way, but it does not make destroying them for research OK. It wouldn't be right to kill elderly people for research because "they're going to die anyways". Frozen human embryos could be adopted and given a chance at life, and some have been. Can anyone tell the people who came from adopted embryos that they should have been killed for research?

Is embryonic stem cell research necessary to cure diseases? There is no reason to believe so. While stem cell research may be promising, it has been going on for a while now and it has not resulted in any cures as of yet. Adult stem cell research has resulted in treatments of diseases, while embryonic stem cell research has not resulted in a single treatment. Nor is it particularly promising, since embryonic stem cells are designed to grow into human beings, not a single type of healthy tissue. Use of embryonic stem cells in medical tests has led to tumors, not cures. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that any cure or treatment that could be achieved with embryonic stem cells (assuming there are any) couldn't be achieved with the other types of stem cells, which present no ethical issues.

This issue has been shamefully demagogued by the supporters of embryo destruction. There is no reason to expect the cures for millions of people that they promise. One of the worst claims of this sort was the claim by John Edwards that if he were elected Vice-President, Christopher Reeve would get up out of his wheelchair and walk.

Proposal 2 would do a lot more than just allow embryo destruction, though. This is a constitutional amendment, not a law, and it could not be changed in the slightest short of another constitutional amendment. This makes every detail even more worth considering. A careful reading of the language reveals several largely unknown consequences of this proposal.

The proposal says that "any research permitted under federal law maybe conducted in Michigan". "Under federal law" may sound tough, but federal law does not restrict embryo research at all. And federal law would supersede Michigan law anyways, so this provision does nothing.

The proposal places the limitation that the "embryos were created for the purpose of fertility treatment". "Fertility treatment" could certainly include human cloning or some other technique. This provision would be difficult to enforce in practice, as people could always say that they were creating embryos for fertility treatment and then "change their minds" later.

The proposal says that no one may "purchase or sell human embryos for stem cell research for stem cell therapies and cures". Thus they could be bought or sold for any other reason.

State and local laws could not "prevent, restrict, obstruct, or discourage any stem cell research" or "create disincentives for any person to engage in or otherwise associate with such research". This would prevent state or local legislators from regulating a significant and growing field with lots of serious ethical questions surrounding it. The Michigan Constitution does not give any other industry such a blanket ban on regulation.

The proposal does not appropriate money for stem cell research. However, it would legalize embryo destruction and hence create the possibility of government spending to support this. Other state legislatures have spent many millions on embryo research at the behest of its proponents, and you can bet that they will make the same demands in Michigan. Further, it isn't hard to imagine some liberal court deciding that the prohibition on creating "disincentives" actually mandates funding, since not funding embryo research is a disincentive to conducting it.

If embryo research is so promising, why does it need government funding? Cures for diseases that affect millions of people would be worth many billions of dollars. Lots of private companies conduct medical research. So why can't embryonic stem cell research be funded through the market? Because the market believes that it isn't likely to work.

So why is embryonic stem cell research such a popular cause on the left? It's all about abortion. Leftists are desperate to find a moral justification for killing tiny human beings stronger than the "woman's right to choose" to kill any baby she finds inconvenient. A decade or so back they touted fetal tissue research. Now it's destroyed embryo research.

The slogan used by opponents of Proposal 2 is "2 goes 2 far". But 2 doesn't go too far, it goes in the wrong direction.

Vote NO on Proposal 2.

For more information:

See also:
Proposal 2 is Bad News. Vote NO!
Prop 2 supporters think you are stupid
Embryonic stem cell research obsoleted... AGAIN!

2 comments: said...

Well reasoned, well stated and well researched. Highly recommended post. Well done.

And amen!


Jessica Soulliere said...

The University of Michigan has put together a short video - "The Truth About Stem Cell Science" - to help clear up misconceptions about regulation and the purpose of such research. Please consider watching it:

Jessica Soulliere, U-M Health System